Sinfonietta concertante

for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in B flat and A), 2 bassoons, 4 horns (2 in B flat alto, 2 in E), Timpani, strings.
12 mins.

Composed under the auspices of the Programme Odyssée de Résidences de l’Abbaye aux Dames de Saintes, set up by the Association des Centres Culturels de Rencontres in Paris. First performed on November 5th 2006 at the Concertgebouw, Bruges by the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique, conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken.

Programme notes

Sinfonietta concertante was written between November 2005 and February 2006, when I was composer-in-residence at the Abbaye-aux-Dames in Saintes, south-western France. It was first performed on November 5th 2006 at the Concertgebouw, Bruges (Brugge)by the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken, and then in concerts in Paris and Saintes. The piece lasts about twelve minutes, and consists of a single sonata-form movement. It was written as a showpiece for the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique (a training orchestra using instruments of the early romantic period) and is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets (in B flat and A), two bassoons, four horns (two in B flat alto and two in E), timpani, and strings.

There is inevitably a little friction between the technique and structure of instruments of the first quarter of the nineteenth century and the language of a composer born in 1946. But this friction, like many, is fruitful: it was fascinating to compose a new piece for this orchestra of “old” instruments and to try to make it sound as fresh and exciting as it would have been in 1830.  Sinfonietta concertante contains important solos for almost all the players – woodwind, brass, timpani (which play a crucial thematic role) and principal strings, including the double bass. Hence the title.

Giles Swayne 2008